LyondellBasell Houston refinery coker to restart late this week

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Lyondell Basell Industries (LBI) plans to restart the large coker at its 263,776 barrel-per-day (bpd) Houston refinery on Thursday or Friday, reported Reuters with reference to Gulf Coast market sources.

The 57,000 bpd coker was shut by a Nov. 28 fire that filled a heater with hard carbon deposits, the sources said. The heater has to be cleaned before the unit can restart. The coker was shut for a four-week overhaul in October and November.

As MRC wrote previously, in August 2016, LyondellBasell made the final investment decision to build a high density polyethylene (HDPE) plant on the US Gulf Coast. The plant will have an annual capacity of 1.1 billion pounds (500,000 metric tons) and will be the first commercial plant to employ LyondellBasell's new proprietary Hyperzone PE technology. The start-up of the new plant is scheduled for 2019.

LyondellBasell is one of the largest plastics, chemicals and refining companies in the world. Driven by its 13,000 employees around the globe, LyondellBasell produces materials and products that are key to advancing solutions to modern challenges like enhancing food safety through lightweight and flexible packaging, protecting the purity of water supplies through stronger and more versatile pipes, and improving the safety, comfort and fuel efficiency of many of the cars and trucks on the road. LyondellBasell sells products into approximately 100 countries and is the world's largest licensor of polyolefin technologies.

Strike lowers production at Portugal refineries

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Workers at Portugal’s Galp Energia started a one-week strike on Monday, reducing production at the Sines and Matosinhos refineries, reported Reuters with reference to union leaders.

Reduced refinery runs were expected during the strike that was called to demand that Galp resume a collective bargaining agreement and improve pay, they said. Product shipments from the Matosinhos were also interrupted, they added.

"Sines is working with a reduced load of about 60 percent of the normal throughput and we expect it to remain this way," said Helder Guerreiro, a Fiequimetal union coordinator at the 220,000 barrel per day Sines refinery in southern Portugal.

Galp Energia declined to comment. During similar strikes in the past, it has said production was not significantly affected.

Galp shares were steady on the Lisbon exchange, while the broader market was 0.5 percent lower.

As is common practice in Portugal, the government has demanded the refineries continue operating with skeleton crews, so no shutdowns are planned.

At the 110,000 bpd Matosinhos plant near Porto the strike halted shipments of products by truck to petrol stations and there was no loading and unloading of ships at the sea terminal, said another union coordinator, Jose Santos.

The refineries can run on stocks of crude for several days.

The terminal was working normally in Sines and filling of trucks for petrol stations continued, although unions said those could be interrupted during some shifts during the dispute.

A second, longer strike is planned for Jan. 2-14 if no progress was made in talks, the Fiequimetal union said.

AkzoNobel acquires full ownership of Chinese decorative paints joint venture

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Akzo Nobel N.V. has signed and closed the acquisition of Swire Industrial Limited’s minority interest in the AkzoNobel Swire Paints (ANSP) joint venture, as per the company's press release.

Having held the majority share in the decorative paints joint venture since 1989, AkzoNobel has now acquired full ownership.

This acquisition strengthens AkzoNobel’s leading position in the Chinese decorative paints market while also increasing the flexibility to further develop the business.

Thierry Vanlancker, CEO of AkzoNobel, said: "China has been, and continues to be, a strategic growth market for AkzoNobel. The timing of this acquisition is perfect. It will strengthen our leading position and help drive our value creation ambition for China. It also supports our ongoing transformation into a focused paints and coatings company and gives further momentum to our strategy of achieving 15% return on sales by 2020."

Ruud Joosten, COO of AkzoNobel, added: "We would like to thank Swire for the constructive and strong partnership we’ve had over the last three decades. The ANSP joint venture has well established sales channels, strong brand recognition and a high level of innovation. We look forward to maintaining this successful path and continuing to serve our customers with top quality brands."

The ANSP joint venture manufactures and distributes decorative paints, primarily under the Dulux brand. Manufacturing plants are located at Guangzhou (including a 10% joint venture with a local partner), Shanghai, Langfang and Chengdu.

As MRC informed before, in December 2016, AkzoNobel finalized the acquisition of BASF’s global Industrial Coatings business, which supplies a range of products for industries including construction, domestic appliances, wind energy and commercial transport, strengthening its position as the global number one supplier in coil coatings.

Akzo Nobel N.V., trading as AkzoNobel, is a Dutch multinational, active in the fields of decorative paints, performance coatings and specialty chemicals. Headquartered in Amsterdam, the company has activities in more than 80 countries, and employs approximately 55,000 people.

PP imports in Russia grew by 8% in January-November

MOSCOW (MRC) - Russia's imports of polypropylene (PP) grew to about 173,700 tonne in first eleven months of this year, up 8% year on year, compared to the same period of 2017. Supply of all grades of PP increased, according to a MRC's DataScope report.

Russian companies slightly increased their PP imports in November, which were 15,200 tonnes versus 13,800 tonnes a month earlier, shipments of propylene homopolymers (homopolymer PP) from Central Asia increased greatly. In general, PP imports into Russia were about 173,700 tonnes in January-November 2018, compared with 160,800 tonnes year on year. Imports of all grades of propylene polymers increased, with homopolymer PP accounting for the greatest increase in deliveries.

Overall, the structure of PP imports by grades looked the following way over the stated period.

November imports of homopolymer PP increased to 6,100 tonnes against 3,400 tonnes a month earlier, shipments of homopolymer PP raffia from Turkmenistan increased two times. Overall imports of this PP grade reached 61,300 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2018, compared to 52,800 a year earlier.

November imports of PP block copolymers in Russia were about 3,300 tonnes against 3,800 tonnes in October on decreased demand for pipe PP. Imports of PP block copolymers into Russia rose to 43,100 tonnes in the first eleven months of 2018, compared to 41,100 tonnes a year earlier.

November imports of statistical copolymers of propylene (PP random copolymers) were 3,000 tonnes, compared to 2,700 tonnes a month earlier, demand for injection moulding PP increased. Total imports of PP random copolymers in Russia were 32,500 tonnes in January - November 2018, compared with 30,300 tonnes year on year.

Imports of other propylene polymers for the reported period were about 36,800 tonnes compared with 36,500 tonnes in the same time a year earlier.


Contest winners idea to ban single-use plastics will become private members bill in Ottawa

MOSCOW (MRC) -- Thanks of a unique contest, a Terrace, B.C. man now has the chance to possibly influence the use of single-use plastics in food packaging, as per Canplastics.

Ben Korving is the winner of the Create Your Canada contest, which allows people to submit ideas for new laws – and his idea was to reduce single-use plastics in food packaging.

Started by Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen in 2009, the contest was originally designed for high school students in his riding to participate in the law-making process. This year, constituents of all ages were allowed to participate.

"My biggest frustration is with packaging in general, specifically the [plastic] … that has to get tossed into the garbage after one use because they have no subsequent life,” Korving told the CBC. “And if you look at your day-to-day examples, you’ll probably find dozens within the span of a few minutes: food packaging, Styrofoam, various metals, etc."

Korving’s idea to ban all single-use plastics in consumer products that aren’t either recyclable or compostable beat more than 100 other entries to win this year’s contest, having been picked by a panel of judges made up of community leaders across northwestern B.C.

Korving will be flown to Ottawa in early 2019 to present his idea and have it turned into a private member’s bill and tabled in the House of Commons.

In Canada, a private member’s bill is a bill introduced in the House of Commons by a member of parliament who is not a cabinet minister. A private member’s bill follows the same legislative process as a government bill, but the time allocated for its consideration is restricted. Private Members’ Bills may be considered only during one of the daily Private Members’ Hours. (As a rule, very few private member’s bills become law.)